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Springfield State Hospital
In 1894, the Legislature of the State of Maryland addressed the issue of overcrowding of the one state operated psychiatric hospital by creating a search committee charged with finding a site for the erection of the “Second Hospital for the Insane of Maryland”. This legislation was proposed by John Hubner of Baltimore County.
After reviewing a number of potential sites, the committee selected Springfield, the estate of the Patterson-Brown? family. At the time of this selection, Springfield was owned by Governor Frank Brown, a descendant of the William Patterson family, a wealthy colonial era farmer and merchant. William Patterson’s daughter, Elizabeth, or “Betsy”, gained international fame and notoriety when she married Jerome Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. This courtship, and the ill-fated marriage that followed has been the subject of numerous books and at least one movie. Information about the Patterson and Brown families can be found in the Springfield Hospital Center Museum and the Maryland Historical Society.
The first patients were received at the hospital in July 1896. Existing farm houses were renovated to accommodate those first patients while the hospital buildings were being constructed. The first phase of the building program was the Men’s Group, located in the northern section of the hospital grounds. A Women’s Group, located at the southern end of the campus was completed in 1900. As the hospital population rapidly expanded, additional buildings were erected, including the John Hubner Psychopathic Building, the Epileptic Colony, and significant expansions to the Men’s and Women’s Groups. Click here for more...
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, constructed in 1872, was once home to the poor, indigent, mentally ill, and occasionally used as a hostel by travelers passing by. Sections of the Almshouse burned twice – in both the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – and were only partially rebuilt. The Almshouse was also previously used as a Civil Defense fall-out shelter in the midst of the Cold War, and retains its deposit of emergency paraphernalia.
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